Are your bike rides getting boring? Do you need to spice up your exercise routine somehow? Have you considered getting the best bike computer that you can find on the market, in order to change the way you feel about bike riding?
With the advent of GPS and running watches that have made it easier to track one’s progress while they exercise, there hasn’t been much in the way of devices for cyclists to use. Having a bicycle computer on your side can gather all of the data for you and ensure that you’ll have the means to gauge just how well you’re doing on each ride. The market has finally started to fill with different brand developers for bike computers, and choosing the right one might not be easy. That’s why we are here to help!
With this article, you will learn all about the finest bike computer models, as we show you the most important features you should consider before buying one. We have also included reviews of the most wanted models on the market, so that you can choose the perfect model for your needs. Now, let’s jump right in!
Our top picks
|Product Name||Weight||Dimensions||Live Tracking||Specific Features||Price|
|Garmin Edge 520||11.2 oz||6 x 6 x 2 in||Yes||In ride challenges, ANT+||Check price on Amazon|
|Garmin Edge 810||3.5 oz||3.7 x 1 x 2 in||Yes||Social media sharing, weather updates||Check price on Amazon|
|Lezyne Super||5.12 oz||6 x 2 x 9 in||No||Bluetooth, ANT+||Check price on Amazon|
|Magellan 505||4 oz||7.7 x 5.4 x 2.6 in||No||Data recording, ANT+||Check price on Amazon|
|Cateye Strada||7.05 oz||1 x 3 x 4 in||No||Light, affordable||Check price on Amazon|
|Planet Bike Protege||4.8 oz||5.91 x 1.97 x 3.94 in||No||LCD screen, light||Check price on Amazon|
|Cateye Velo 7||4.16 oz||1.9 x 3.2 x 4.3 in||No||Large LED screen, easy to use||Check price on Amazon|
Features to Consider Before Buying
When it comes to finding the best cycling computer, you may think they all work the same, but they don’t. Each manufacturer uses a different kind of sensor to record and provide you with the information that you’re looking for. They all work in different ways, with benefits and drawbacks that make some more suitable over others.
Recording your riding data is all well and good, but there are some features that can make all the difference for certain riders, especially those who want more versatility as they use their biking computers. Here are a few of the features you may want to consider when shopping for your cycling computer.
Bike computers have different ways of collecting the data from your rides. Those ways include data sensors, and they can be:
A magnet is attached to a wheel spoke, which is rotated past a sensor on the front fork. The faster you go, the more it spins. In cases where cadence sensors are used, the magnet is attached to a crank arm while the sensor is attached to the rear stay.
One great advantage of this is that it’s cheaper, so it’s perfect for those who are shopping on a budget. Magnet sensors also have a longer battery life, so there’s no need to replace the batteries often or to recharge them on a regular basis. One drawback, however, is that there is no GPS functionality, so you can’t see where you’ve been.
A satellite receiver is attached to the back in order to convert GPS signals into data. This allows for more data options, as it’s a more sophisticated piece of technology, and the information can be transferred over and saved to your computer.
That way, you have a way you can record and compare all of your rides in one place. Another great benefit is that it can be placed on any bicycle, so you can always have a record, no matter what vehicle you’re using.
In terms of disadvantages, GPS units tend to be a bit pricier, a little heavier, and they need charging on a regular basis so that the batteries don’t die in the middle of your ride.
Magnetic sensors transmit data through a wire, which adds how cost-efficient they are, as well as making them much lighter. However, having a wire in the way means that there’s more to break, and they can sometimes get in the way while you ride.
Wired transmission also means that you can’t swap the sensor between different bikes. GPS sensors use wireless data, making them easier to install and have a cleaner look about them. They will add more weight to your bike, however.
There’s also the consideration of ANT+. This is only necessary if you intend to track your data through Strava, Training Peaks, or you’re working under a training coach.
This is because devices with ANT+ capabilities can track and record individual rides so that you can see just how well you’re doing and what areas you need to improve on. It’s really only beneficial for those who are interested in getting into competitive cycling.
Like every other electronic device, bike computers need electric current, meaning they need batteries. But, not all models have the same batteries and not all offer same working time.
Look for rechargeable batteries with the longest run time. GPS units have a runtime of about twenty hours, while magnetic units can last for a couple of years. These are both comparable to using a cycling app on your smartphone, which may only last about five to eight hours.
How do you want to get your data off of your cycling computer? Where do you want to store your data? Have you thought about that? Not all models offer the same types of data transfers and maybe the model you plan on buying uses type that is not convenient for you.
The more sophisticated models, make it easy for you to transfer the information that you need, either to their own software program or to any social fitness site you’re using to store your data. Just make sure you pick the model with the right type of data transfer.
Have you considered about how the computer will display the data? Will the one you choose offers the right type of data display, or will you have to get your eyes off the road if you want certain data to be displayed?
All of your data may be displayed on one screen, or you may have several screens you have to scroll through in order to see all your data. There may even be the option to customize your screens so that you’re only getting the data that you want to see.
Cycling isn’t always done during the daytime, and you need some way of seeing your data without having to carry an extra flashlight with you. Backlit screens can make this possible when you’re riding in the evenings.
Furthermore, some models also offer the ability of adjusting the light volume. For example, if it’s too bright and makes focusing on the road in front of you hard, you can simply dim it down to the level that suits you.
Best Products on Today’s Market
Now that you know what to look for, here are a few products on the market that customers consider to be the best. This list may include some brands you’re not familiar with, or they don’t have all of the functionality that you’re looking for, but this list is designed to be a guide to help you find the right one that you’re looking for.
Price: Approx. $250
Weight: 11.2 oz
Dimensions: 6 x 6 x 2 in
Specific features: Provides in-ride challenges through the use of Strava life segments, tracks functional threshold power, cycling dynamics, and watts/kg
Best use: Biking, mountain biking
Description: With the purchase of the cycling Garmin Edge 520 Bike Computer, you’ll get the first two months of Strava Premium for free, and it’s the first cycling computer that’s compatible with their live segments.
Once you complete each segment, you’ll be presented with the current leader board so you can see where you rank against everyone else.
It can also be paired with a power meter or the Garmin app on your smart phone to provide you with even more data you can use to keep track of your times and distances. And the handy weather notifications keep you informed of the changes in the climate so that you’re not caught out in the rain.
This bike GPS also includes features such as live tracking, automatic uploads, notifications, sharing through social media, weather notifications, indoor and ANT+, plus a lot more!
- In ride challenges
- Auto uploads
- Live tracking
- Interface is complex
- Buttons must be hard pressed
- Start/Stop button is on the bottom
Related: The Mongoora Bike Phone Mount is a bike mount that is used for many phones and is affordable. You can rotate it 360 degrees and can choose your color. It also has a lifetime warranty.
Price: Approx. $500
Weight: 3.5 oz
Dimensions: 3.7 x 1 x 2 in
Specific features: Live tracking, instant uploading, ride-sharing capabilities, social sharing networks, weather updates, comprehensive data
Best use: Mountain biking, cycling
Description: With the added features of this cycling Garmin Edge 810 GPS Bike Computer, it’s a bit of a step up from the previous model. The screen is clear and easy to read, and the ability to customize it makes it a unique tool for each individual rider.
You can pore through and compare all your data, or you can focus only on the information that you want. It’s also one of the lighter models out there, so you won’t feel like your handlebars are being weighed down.
This cycling computer also allows you to pre-define up to ten different bikes so that you’re always getting accurate information, no matter what you’re riding on how you’re riding. Some of these categories include cross country, trail, race or road, just to name a few.
We love how easy it is to use!
- Live tracking
- Heart rate monitor included
- Easy to use touch screen
- Can freeze up
- Interface seems clunky
- USB can break
Related: The BV Bicycle Light Set is a great little set that has a headlight and a taillight. The headlight has 5 LED lights while the taillight has 3.
Price: Approx. $140
Weight: 5.12 oz
Dimensions: 6 x 2 x 9 in
Specific features: Altimeter, heart rate monitor, Bluetooth, ANT+, measures cadence, lightweight, compact
Best use: Every day cycling, commuting with a bicycle
Description: If you’re looking for something that fits within your budget and is still lightweight, then the Lezyne Super GPS Bike Computer is the device for you. It’s simple enough for anyone to use, and it can transfer data easily onto your computer.
It does have some drawbacks, such as the lack of maps, there is no color screen, and it doesn’t record a wider spectrum of data, but it’s a good first biking computer for the casual cyclist.
Although it lacks a lot of the features that many of the other products on this list have, that can be seen as a bonus, as it’s easier to use and won’t confuse the cyclists with fancy data they don’t need. Users can even customize the screens and data that they see.
Overall, this is a great, affordable GPS for your bike, and it will make your cycling/fitness data collecting much easier, plus it will turn your rides into more interesting ones.
- Can be used with a heart rate monitor
- Speedometer and odometer
- Heart rate monitor not included
- Inconsistent speed
- Elastic bands can break
Related: The Acomfort Bike Rack is a bike rack that holds up to 110 lbs. It first nearly all bikes and costs under $30.
Price: Approx. $200
Weight: 4 oz
Dimensions: 7.7 x 5.4 x 2.6 in
Specific features: Provides info on cycling places of interest, provides complete USA road network, suggests different routes when entering distance and time criteria
Best use: Mountain biking, road trips with a bicycle
Description: This handy Magellan 505 GPS Cycle Computer is more colorful than you probably ever bargained for. The GPS maps are easy to read, showing clear details of where you’ve been, as well as providing color-coded graphs so you can track your progress.
When selecting a destination and inputting a time, the device will prove you with three different route options, along with information on their difficulty, amount of elevation, and the amount of unpaved road.
That way, you can take the best route that suits your riding style. It’s compatible with both Android smart phones and iPhones, allowing more users to benefit from this handy device.
Some of the other great features of this cycle computer include Bluetooth, ANT+, data recording (speed, cadence, heart rate), virtual sharing with other device users, large touch screen, connects to smart phone, and calling notifications so you will never miss a call.
- Surprise Me route feature
- Shake-N-Share your route
- Bluetooth capable
- Could stop holding a charge
- Maps for USA only
- Can freeze up
Related: If you are biking at night, the Oumers Bike Spoke Light can help others to see you. They fit right onto the bike spokes and cost under $10.
Price: Approx. $65
Weight: 7.05 oz
Dimensions: 1 x 3 x 4 in
Specific features: Lightweight, small, inexpensive, bright color
Best use: Biking, fitness data collection
Description: This is another non-GPS cycling CatEye Strada Slim Computer that has quite a large display for anyone to read. It’s a very affordable unit for those shopping on a budget, and provides the essential data that any casual cyclist would need.
It’s small, very lightweight, and has a wireless speed sensor so you won’t get tangled in any wires or suffer the risk of tearing the wire out. It records your speed, how long you’ve been biking for, and your total distance.
It doesn’t have any GPS functionality or much versatility, but for the price, it still has a lot of functionality.
You get your choices of black, red, or white colors and the screen offers a large display of your time and distance so you can see it well. While this cycle computer is fairly basic, we like it because there are no frills and gives you the basic information you need for a fair price.
- 3 color choices
- Slim design
- Sensor and receiver have to be within 60 cm of each other
- Battery can be dead upon purchase
- Can lose signal while riding
Related: The Joy Colorful Bicycle Bag is a bag that will hold a few accessories and has a clear pouch for your phone or cycling computer so you can use it in the rain.
Price: Approx. $35
Weight: 4.8 oz
Dimensions: 5.91 x 1.97 x 3.94 in
Specific features: Provides essential data (speed, speed comparator, ride time, distance, average speed, max speed, clock, temperature, odometer), universal bracket for any bicycle, displays 5 pieces of data at once on an LCD screen
Best use: Biking, mountain biking
Description: Another affordable device, this cycling Planet Bike Protege Bike Computer has a lot of functionality for its price. It has a large LED screen that allows you to see up to five pieces of data at once, so you can see just how well you’re doing. It’s light and small, so it won’t weigh down or take over the space on your handlebars.
Despite its ease of use, it’s not very easy to set up initially. You’ll require something small to set up all the different features, such as your wheel size and miles, and that could be too much of a hassle for some people.
On the plus side, it is wireless, so you don’t have to fiddle with the hassle of a wire getting in the way. It mounts very easily to the handlebars, but does require a little bit of force to remove, so it’s advised that you be careful.
- 4 line display
- Show temperature
- Fits up to 31.8 mm handlebars
- Odometer can stop working
- Temperature can be off
- Mode button can quit working
Related: The Lycaon Bike Bell is a cool little bell you can attach to your bike. It has a loud ring and comes in many colors.
Price: Approx. $25
Weight: 4.16 oz
Dimensions: 1.9 x 3.2 x 4.3 in
Specific Features: Speedometer, easy installation, elapsed time, clock, large LED screen, affordable, very easy to use
Best use: Mountain biking, regular every day city cycling
Description: If minimalist is your style, the CatEye Velo 7 Bicycle Computer is the cycling computer for you. It’s super cheap, so if something happens to it the first time, it won’t cost too much to replace. You won’t have to worry about that, however, as this tiny device is quite durable.
It’s easy to set up on your handle bars, and you won’t have a hard time reading the large display screen. It has no GPS capabilities, and it does have a wired sensor, so you have to take special care of it while you ride.
However, it does it’s best to save on power: it turns on automatically when it sense movement, and then goes into power saving mode after ten minutes of inactivity. Installation is made a little more tedious with the use of the wired sensor, but you’ll get reliable data once you’re all done.
- Wired sensor
- Long battery life
- Hard to get on some bikes
- Speedometer can malfunction
Related: The Ushake Water Bottle Cage is great when you take a bottle of water while you bike. Under $10, this 2 pack is made of aluminum alloy and is light.
Having your own cycling computer can keep you abreast of your progress and show you just how well you’re doing. Going out for a casual ride? You can see just how far you’ve gone and compare it to your previous ride. Training for a race?
These handy devices can help you with that too, so you can ensure that you’re always improving. Even if you’re not itching to get that best time or go the farthest distance, it’s still interesting to see just what you’re capable of.
If you’ve purchased any of these products before and have a story to share with us, please leave a comment below. Alternatively, if there’s a product not on this list that you’ve had great experiences with, please share those with us too. We’d love to hear from you and see what other great cycling computers we’ve missed out on